It seems to me that we need to determine where/when/how/why Unity shifted from thinking power was centered in individuals to thinking it came from organization and groupness. BUT, I’m just getting my toe wet in this subject and feel somewhat at a loss to explain it. I don’t know if there was a single moment in which the shift occurred or if it took place, subtly, over a number of years or even decades.
As I begin to wonder, I’m wondering…did it start when Charles Fillmore, whose consciousness had kept Unity centered, passed in 1948? At that point Unity would have moved from a single, charismatic leader to a consensus, “Board of Directors,” leadership…Leadership By Committee. When I arrived at Unity Village in 1959 for what turned out to be a five-year residence, I got the feeling that the focus was more on preservation than innovation…a “mothballed battleship” is the analogy that came to mind back then.
Then, in the mid-60s Unity School divested itself of its field ministry, resulting in the formation of another corporation, each administered by a Board of Directors, and establishing a trend in the Movement in which leadership became the province of Boards and Committees.
Later, around 1990, the Association of Unity Churches, which had been created to represent ministers and to serve them, became more focused on representing churches and on exerting unchallenged and unchallengable power over ministers. I remember writing about this in the early 90s when I was trying to get a minister’s journal started.
About that same time, if I’m remembering rightly, activists began calling attention to sexism, political correctness, and hate speech. The result has been a mixed bag. Awareness has been raised of the need to treat women fairly and affirmatively, but that has gotten mixed up with the notion that “equalness is sameness,” which is leading to the absurdity(if not criminality) of children being subjected to chemical treatment that renders them neither male or female.
Political correctness has made us more aware that language shouldn’t prize maleness over femaleness, but it has had an inhibitory, censorious effect on communication, comedy, and creativity, with super-sensitive people taking offense at the slightest perception of “incorrectness” and bringing suit against those who have a different viewpoint. This, I suspect, is part of the “groupthink” phenomena in which correctness is granted greater importance than substance, forcing parrticipants to confine their remarks within the “acceptable” range. To stiffle communication is to stiffle creativity…and to promote
conformity and mediocrity. People focused on avoiding “offense” are hamstrung, and tend to play it safe. If you’re worried about whether to say “he” or “she” or “it,” you might just keep your mouth shut. I know when I’m writing with creative fervor I’m not at all concerned with grammatical niceness or correctness. After I finish I go back and clean up the poor grammar, misspellings, syntax errors, etc., etc..
Creativity requires somebody going out on a limb…somebody daring to be different…somebody challenging the status quo. This produces strong–and strong-willed individuals…Leaders…Charismatic Leaders…Leaders whom people want to hear and to align themselves with.
Decades ago Unity had leaders, other than Charles Fillmore–ministers and authors–both male and female–who were always eagerly welcomed on speaking tours. They were regarded highly. They were respected. They projected a Unity stature and authority that has vanished from the Movement. We have focused on “re-branding,” on organizational unity, on diversity, on grandiose schemes, and have downplayed (trashed) tradition including Silent Unity, the Fillmore heritage, and Metaphysics. NONE of this has any meaning to the people who come seeking at Unity Churches every Sunday. We, the Movement, have simply ended up less creative, less energetic, and less empowered than before. (I have recently received word that, under new leadership, Unity School seems to be moving in positive directions. That’s good to hear, and I hope it’s true.)
That’s the way I see this having unfolded. Maybe my thoughts will prompt additional and better ones in your mind. I encourage you to add your thoughts to the pool that Doug dug for us. Once we get our feet on some solid causality, we can begin to correct the course of a Movement and make it great again. Oops. Did I use that phrase? (How super-careful we have to be with language these days.) Are we stuck with leadership by committee? Are we afraid of having a single person be The Leader of Unity? Who could fill those two shoes? Is there anyone whose stature we respect enough to be our Leader and Global Spokesperson? Is there anyone whose judgment we respect enough to want him or her to represent us…and Unity? It’s tough to appoint or anoint leaders when we haven’t groomed leaders for decades. If it were left up to you to select A single Leader–a person with integrity, honesty, vision, diplomacy, and charisma– for the Unity Movement, who would you select?
Feel free to forward this (the entire document) to your friends who may be Unity ministers, and who might have good thoughts to share on this issue.
Blessings, Bernard Dozier